Tuesday, October 21, 2008

London to Amsterdam take II

My initial post did not include pictures... So I wanted to include some of the wonderful sights along with my gab!

Sunset turns the sky and its reflection in the Thames a beautiful rose hue. The left tower of the bridge captures the final light of day. Picture taken from the "Queen´s Walk" on the south side of the Thames. Barely visible on the lower RHS is the roundish and stunning City Hall building (Tower Bridge, London, England)

We happened to be in the area on the one day of the month the City Hall building is open to the public, so we took advantage! This is the view from the main conference room up. We are looking at the bottom side of swoopy spiral staircases all the way to the top of the 10-level building. Architecturally, this building is an absolute stunner. If there was ever a question that London has money to burn, this building answers the question loudly in the affirmitive. (City Hall Building, London, England)

Lizzy and me (Somewhere in the London Underground, London, England)

I went on a walking tour around the "Bank" exit from the tube. I just happened upon this building, where it looked like they were preparing for a concert: They were setting up stage lighting to highlight the columns, they were putting up tables outside... So I asked. It turns out that this night, the heads of England were meeting here to decide what to do with their own enormous "Bail out the banks" package. Interesting that while deciding what to do with taxpayer money, they got to stroke their chins over an expensive lobster dinner and clink goblets of pricy wine while the taxpayers look on in dismay about the future of the financial system... Did someone say excesses in the banking industry created this problem? (Just outside the Bank of England, London, England)

Me and Lizzy on one of our fabulously cheap nights out! Got the cheapest tix available for Wicked for 15£ (then moved to the expensive 60£ empty seats!), got half-priced dinner and dessert with coupons (£1.83 each), and avoided getting stiffed on a cup of water (5£) by grabbing an empty cup from the bar. This night of fabulousness was valued at nearly 75£ (122$), but we paid 38£, and the memories? PRICELESS!! (At the Burger King inside the Victoria Station, across the street from the Victoria Apollo, where Wicked is playing!)

Oh, yeah... And Wicked was good too! :)

On one of my final nights in London, Lizzy, my friend Marc (a Brit whom I had met in Madrid) and I went out to dance at the very famous/infamous club "Heaven". It was owned by Richard Branson--so if you work for Virgin (Atlantic, Mobile, Music, Galactic, etc) you get in free! Although the club is somewhat "legendary", what we found there was too much artifical smoke, expensive drinks, sticky floors, and ancient shirtless men doused in glitter (Heaven, London, England)

Okay, here´s a little thought exercise... Take a look at this URL (it details the Virgin Empire, "Virgin Group"). The list is ENORMOUS of all the companies Virgin Group controls. It is diversified into so many different industries, each consisting of major companies.

The Virgin Group is valued at approximately 5 billion £ (8.15 billion USD). In short, it is massive, massive, massive.

The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 authorizes around 700 billion USD. So, to give a little perspective, the US bailout package is worth approximately 86 Virgin Groups.

Mika, Rolf, and two other friends at dinner my first night in Amsterdam. Rolf met me at the tram stop and walked me back to his place. Rolf and his girlfriend (Maaike) had prepared a fabulous dinner for us! It consisted of a green salad, green beans, linguini with cream sauce, and broiled tuna! Yum! Later that night the other guests departed, Rolf handed me the key and said, "see you in 2 days!" WHOA!

I met Rolf in Arequipa, Peru, in February 2008. We then traveled to Puno, Lake Titicaca, Cuzco and Machu Pichu together. He's a very nice guy. When I left Cuzco to go to Lima, Rolf stayed on in Cuzco to do volunteer work.

Near the Anne Frank house (For English speakers, her name is two syllables: Ahh-nuh). This picture shows the typical tall and skinny row houses crowded together and perilously perched to fall in the canals (It cannot be seen from this photo, but when walking by, one can see that some of the facades from some of these buildings ARE angled toward the water and are actually falling into the canal! (Amsterdam, Holland)

The Dutch appreciate good modern architecture. I filled my lenses (eyes and camera!) with TONS of gorgeous modern buildings! (Amsterdam, Holland)

A bridge over one of the Amsterdam canal rings. The larger ships cannot pass until the bridge lifts out of the way. An alarm sounds, guard arms come down to stop anyone from passing, and then the roadway lifts. Really cool to watch!! (Amsterdam, Holland)

No, you´re not seeing things: this shop really DOES have cows on the ceiling! (Amsterdam, Holland)

The Red-Light-District without the red light. The blacklight windows with red porchlights are the marker of the district. In the windows, scantily clad ladies wink at passerbys... One of the empty rooms had no curtains so I took this picture: a rare look INSIDE the rooms... And you can see a bed, a climate control unit, and perhaps most important: a fire detector. This IS a ligitimate business, after all!! (Red Light District, Amsterdam, Holland)

One-shot summary of Holland: Clouds, Windmills, Canals, and hoards of bicyclists! (Amsterdam, Holland)

I heard a noise, looked up, and saw this accident: the dust from the collision is still in the air. Nobody was hurt, luckily! (Not obeying traffic rules, Amsterdam, Holland)

In a land where your bike might be parked in a rack with 3,000 others (no, I´m not exaggerating!), it helps to personalize your bicycle! (Amsterdam, Holland)

I took 2 days to visit my friend Anne in Utrecht, 30 minutes away from Amsterdam by train. The view from her window is directly into the treetops of deciduous trees above a canal, and just looking out the window in the morning was SO NICE!!! Downtown in Utrecht, there is a huge bell tower and magnificent foilage turning colors. As has tended to be my experience in general, I like Utrecht a BIT more than Amsterdam. I REALLY like the smaller towns!! (Utrecht, Holland)

The view down the street toward the cathedral, complete with flying buttresses to dispurse the weight of the roof out and down (Utrecht, Holland)

One night Anne and I went out to a festival, and after a beer or two, we started playing around with the camera. (Utrecht, Holland)

Anne offers a traditional Dutch fried fish bits. They were really yummy! (Utrecht, Holland)

1 comment:

Kathy said...

So...where are you now for the New Year??? :)
I love the cows on the ceiling...I wonder if I can train the sheep to do the same? And in case you haven't heard, Kel's now a mom!

All the best to you, Scott. Safe journeys...always!